The Fall at The Coronet
It must be said that The Fall are one of the greatest bands of all time. Few can match either the quantity or the quality of their output, which spans five decades. It must also be said that "The Fall" means Mark E. Smith (MES), and MES is a madman.
On Friday, Smith, his wife, and three others nobody really cares about played at the Coronet - an unfortunate venue by Elephant & Castle where they really don't like chewing gum. The question on everyone's mind was: What would MES do? I can now tell you.
He stalked around the stage like a goblin in a leather jacket, rubbing his hands with invisible soap. He yelled incomprehensible gibberish into every microphone he could get his hands on, sometimes using several at a time. He switched his guitarist's amplifier on and off, and turned the bass up to unhealthy levels. In other words: just as expected.
What was unexpected was quite how strange the whole affair is to watch. One got the sense that the crowed wanted to see a monkey in a cage, and MES was willing - if not happy - to oblige. This is the point where "The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall" just becomes frightening, as the crowd and MES seemed to have little interest in anything other than being angry "before heading off to the retirement home."
And that is a shame. MES's insanity can obviously yield some amazing results. Unfortunately, the tendency of everyone to indulge the whims of an increasingly eccentric old man has made him difficult to connect with as a performer. This situation isn't helped by the song selection, which, when coupled with the ill-tempered performance leaves the music devoid of any sense of dynamics. If you are the type of fan to prefer the openness of "Hip Priest" to the bombastic pressure of "Wolf Kidult Man," you are out of luck.
The Fall performed at The Coronet on Friday the 11th of May, 2012. You can find video and the setlist from the performance at the Reformation fansite.